Review: The Vampire Slayer’s Survival Guide

Written by Katy Birchall
Cover Illustration by Jane Pica
Published by Scholastic

I absolutely loved How Not to be a Vampire Slayer so was super excited to read The Vampire Slayer’s Survival Guide and, oh my, what a fantastically funny, heart-warming adventure this is – just perfect for spooky, but not too spooky, season!

It can easily be read as a standalone, but I would bet a bottle of ketchup, that readers will adore Maggie’s first adventure in Goreway too, so it definitely is worth treating yourself to both books to save a return trip to your bookshop.

Now, you might not expect a vampire and a vampire slayer to be best friends.  But what if I told you that the vampire in question is a ketchup-obsessive vegetarian, and the slayer is more partial to protecting and encouraging good dental hygiene than slaying?  When we meet these two friends, Sharptooth Shadow and Maggie Helsby, they are playing hide-and-seek, or is it seek-and-hide?  It is not long before they are joined by friends Ari and Miles discussing graphic novels, upcoming detentions, the dangers of trying to get a vampire to brush their fangs with minty toothpaste and the revelation that, all the supernatural creatures that humans believe don’t exist, DO!  Yes – there’s ghosts, werewolves, zombies, mummies … and they’re about to descend on Goreway! 

Luckily, the enchantments that surround Skeleton Forest will keep them away from Maggie’s vampire friends, and the treasure that is supposedly hidden in the castle so they will soon get bored and go away.  Did I say luckily?  What I meant to say was ‘unluckily’ as the enchantments are in fact weakening, and, as if that wasn’t danger enough, Count Bloodthirst has decided to have them lowered again to allow his humans friends to visit the castle for a tour.  As if the threat from monster treasure-seekers isn’t enough, there is someone even more dangerous hunting them …  will Maggie be able to protect both the vampires and the supernatural creatures from a monster hunter intent on their capture?

This is an absolute riot of a story that brought both giggles galore and shivers of delight as I followed Maggie, Sharptooth and their friends, both old and new, on a fangtastically action-packed, exciting, hilarious adventure that had me eagerly turning the pages in anticipation of what was coming next.  I loved the unexpected revelations, the twists, the daring journey (I’ll say no more but, my goodness – comedic genius and good old-fashioned Indiana Jones mixed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer perfection!).  Mischievous bats, ghosts in the toilets, monsters in the bins, football matches with a difference: utterly brilliant and just so incredibly funny!

What utterly fabulous characters both Maggie and Sharptooth are – definitely some of my favourites ever and, as I read a lot of children’s books, that really is a compliment!  They have such a warm, strong and supportive friendship willing to accept and celebrate differences and to learn from each other.  Sharptooth is a breath of fresh air if perhaps not fresh breath given her penchant for copious amounts of ketchup and her aversion to toothpaste.  Her wonder at the human world, and her honest, unintentionally witty comments and actions, are truly gorgeous.  I love that Maggie is not prepared to accept her destiny of taking up the mantel of vampire slayer, but is true to who she wants to be – a protector of supernatural creatures and a defender of their right to freedom.    

This is a wonderfully enchanting, rib-tickling supernatural adventure with heart-warming messages of acceptance, being true to yourself, family and friendship.  Perfect for those who like their spooky stories with tears of delight rather than shivers of fright.

Thank you so much to Harriet Dunlea and Scholastic for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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